WILTSHIRE Police has become the first force in the south west to hold a recruitment drive since the Government’s Comprehen-sive Spending Review in October 2010, after opening the application process on Wednesday.

The force is recruiting police officers to create a pool of 150 applicants from which to fill the projected intakes over the next three years, with the first intake of 15 officers set to start in late 2013 and early 2014.

Applicants must be aged between 18 and 57 and have a minimum of 5 GCSEs, grades A*-C or equivalent, including maths and English.

The application process takes around 46 weeks from the initial application stage to the date employment will commence with a starting salary of £19,000.

Superintendent Charlie Armstrong, from Wiltshire Police, said: “Having not recruited since 2009, we have some gaps to fill, but we have had to be careful about how we do it.

“We have not recruited any frontline officers since the freeze and we have changed the shape and size of the force, but that has been mainly backroom redundancies. There is no extra Government funding, as this recruitment is the result of policing funds agreed by the PCC and the Chief Constable.”

Recent figures have shown that the average age of police officers has gone up since the recruitment freeze was put in force.

Wiltshire Police currently consists of 1,081 officers, with 1.39 per cent under 26, 41.91 percent between 26-40, 55.41 per cent between 41-55 and 1.30 per cent 56 or over.

Supt Armstrong added: “It is understandable that the age will go up, but we are not confining recruitment to young people.

“It is more important that the new officers are of the right calibre, as the cost of selecting and training each officer is £16,000.”

All applicants must reside within Wiltshire, Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire, Devon and Cornwall, Thames Valley, Dorset, Hampshire or South Wales in order to apply.

Current Wiltshire Police staff and members of the public are welcome to apply. The application form will be available on the force website, as well as its Facebook and Twitter pages. Call the recruitment line on (01380) 734132 or visit policerecruit@ wiltshire.pnn.police.uk. To apply follow the link to the pre-assessment tool http://apollo.adc.uk.com/ s/wiltsexpcrec13